The Little Hours Review: Nuns Gone Wild

Photo Credit:

It’s only a few minutes into The Little Hours that Aubrey Plaza’s Fernanda, a 14th century nun, starts hurling profanities at the convent’s gardener. At that moment, the film drops any and all seriousness and never lets up. Potty mouthed nuns may be the film’s only throughline joke that consistently works, but it’s a hell of a joke.

By way of this joke, the film also gets to put a modern twist on societal norms that look and act like relics but still somehow exist today in one muted form or another. But the true joy of The Little Hours is its huge cast of actors who would frequently steal the TV shows they used to be on (populated by alums from some of the past decade’s best comedies, including Parks and Recreation, Community, Scrubs, Portlandia, Girls, Looking, and of course, SNL) and how they satire the contradictions and loopholes found in Christianity.

As the plot goes, based on an actual 14th century novella by Giovanni Boccaccio, but undoubtedly differing in tone, a servant (Dave Franco) flees his master (Nick Offerman) after he sleeps with his wife (Lauren Weedman). He’s found by Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly), who offers to take him back to the convent so long as he promises to pretend to be deaf and mute. Once there, he catches the eyes of three nuns: Alessandra (Alison Brie), who yearns to escape her life of embroidery and be swept off her feet by a man; Fernanda, a violent flirt; and Genevra (Kate Micucci, possibly the MVP of them all), rule-abiding to the point of psychotic. A few more characters are woven into the plot, including fun turns from Jemima Kirke and Fred Armisen, and the lone disappointment of a criminally underused Molly Shannon, giving the film a delightful whoever-picked-up-the-phone feel to its casting decisions.

This group would undoubtedly make an entertaining film regardless of its plot, but this sure-to-anger takedown of organized Christianity is wonderfully ruthless in its delivery, sure to divide audiences in half: those who laughed and those who scoffed, the latter of which the film also skewers. But director Jeff Baena and producer Aubrey Plaza seem to take so much delight in offending that the film stirs up an infectious feel. The Little Hours may not be the best comedy of the year, but there’s something to love in the middle finger sticking up through its rosary clutching fist. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *